A 22-year-old Payson woman responsible for a host of crimes including driving the getaway car after her boyfriend held up a woman at an ATM was sentenced Monday to six years in prison.
Rachel Eileen Tenney in court Monday said she was sorry for her actions and she hoped to eventually become a productive member of society.
That goes against what she told a probation officer during a pre-sentencing report, however, when she denied wrongdoing and said she had gotten a raw deal.
Tenney asked for a new lawyer before sentencing, claiming a conflict of interest and that her lawyer Michael Bernays hadn’t explained the plea deal to her well enough.
At Monday’s sentencing, Tenney withdrew that request saying she didn’t want to hold up sentencing. She and Bernays then briefly met and said everything had been cleared up.
Among her crimes, Tenney pleaded guilty to conspiring with Douglas Henneman to rob a motorist at the Chase ATM in Payson, stealing a van and taking a cart full of merchandise from Walmart.
In the robbery, May 20, 2012, Tenney and Henneman waited for a motorist to withdraw funds and Henneman then approached with a gun, pointed it in the woman’s face and demanded her $60. Henneman fled and Tenney picked him up nearby. Henneman later told officers he needed the money to support his drug habit.
Tenney told probation she too is a drug addict, using methamphetamine, heroin and prescription painkillers. She aggravated her meth addition by using it intravenously.
On June 4, a vehicle was stolen from a Main Street auto repair shop. After an investigation, officers determined Tenney had taken the key to the vehicle after a mechanic left it inside for service. When the mechanic discovered the key was missing, the vehicle was pushed into the gated yard and secured for the weekend. Two days later, Tenney and Henneman returned to the shop and Tenney acted as a lookout while Henneman climbed the fence and attempted to ram the gate open with the vehicle.
When this didn’t work, the couple broke into a motor home on the property, ransacked it, took several tools to disassemble the gate and drove the vehicle out.
The couple then left the stolen vehicle at a hotel off the Beeline where police quickly spotted it. Tenney admitted to officers that items inside the vehicle were stolen including clothing, a television and electronics.
On Nov. 16, Tenney and her mother went into Walmart with two carts, loaded them up and then walked out without paying. Tenney’s mother nearly ran a Walmart employee over with her vehicle trying to get away, according to the presentencing report.
In all, they took more than $1,200 worth of merchandise, including $200 worth of the items either damaged or opened.
Then while in the Gila County Jail, Tenney was among several inmates found using heroin another inmate had smuggled in.
“I am sorry for what happened,” Tenney told Judge Peter Cahill. “I do have a drug problem and my boyfriend Mr. Henneman was abusive. I didn’t know at the time what he was doing or I would have tried to change it. My life was at risk the one time I did try and stop him.”
Tenney told probation she only admitted to driving the getaway car during the armed robbery at the ATM because Henneman had said he’d kill her and her four children. She adamantly denied that she conspired to commit the robbery or drove Henneman away after he robbed the woman, probation wrote.
On the stolen vehicle charge, Tenney again denied to probation that she had helped Henneman steal the vehicle. The only crime she admitted to was stealing from Walmart.
“She professed her innocence and feels the plea agreement is a miscarriage of justice,” probation wrote. “By her failure to accept responsibility ... it would appear defendant has continued on a path of self-destructive behaviors justified by her life of victimization.”
Cahill sentenced Tenney to five years for conspiring to commit armed robbery, one year for stealing from Walmart and 36 months of probation for burglary and vehicle theft. He also sentenced her to several years for possessing heroin in jail, but that sentence will run concurrent.